Posts tagged ‘Federal Reserve System’

28/09/2016

Warning Sounded Over Chinese Economy – China Real Time Report – WSJ

What a contrast! See pair of articles – this on on China, the other on India, both from WSJ.

Recent stability in the Chinese economy masks deep-seated problems that threaten to rattle global markets in advance of a leadership change next year, according to a survey.

Ignoring these risks is shortsighted, said authors of the China Beige Book International, a quarterly survey that tracks the world’s second-largest economy.Data from the group’s third-quarter survey of 3,100 Chinese firms and 160 bankers point to some potential problems. New growth engines intended to shift the economy away from investment toward consumption-led growth are increasingly wobbly as corporate cash flow is squeezed and Beijing doubles down on traditional engines to stabilize output, the China Beige Book says.

“I’d find it earth-shatteringly surprising if we don’t have a significant problem between now and China’s leadership change” in the fall of 2017 when the 19th Party Congress convenes, said Leland Miller, China Beige Book’s president. “This is not a stable economy. It’s one that twists and turns and happens to end up at the same spot. There are real problems below the surface.”

Growth in China’s service industry, a cornerstone of its planned transition to a new and more sustainable economic model, weakened during the third quarter as financial services, private healthcare, telecommunications, media and other subsectors flagged, the group’s data showed. In retail, the apparel, luxury goods and food sectors slowed, it said, as online retailers continued to cannibalize brick-and-mortar sales.

Despite Beijing’s pledge to reduce excess Industrial capacity and pare debt, China remains heavily dependent on government spending to power traditional debt-fueled growth engines, the group said. Much of the economic momentum during the third quarter came from infrastructure, manufacturing, commodities and real estate and many of these sectors are in danger of losing momentum, it said.

While property sales remained strong in major cities, cash flow in the sector tightened and borrowing increased, a sign that investors should “think about getting off this train sooner rather than later,” the China Beige Book said.

“Deteriorating corporate finances and a rebalancing reversal seem a high price to pay for a quarter’s worth of stability,” the group added.

Economic and monetary authorities didn’t respond to requests for comment.

China roiled global markets last year when stocks plunged and Beijing intervened to prop them up. A few months later, it introduced a new currency system in which the yuan fell against the dollar, fueling concern that this would launch a destabilizing round of currency depreciations among rival trading nations. State spending and easy money policies since then have settled investor nerves.

China is expected to report third-quarter economic growth of around 6.7% next month, the level it posted in both the first and second quarters. Gauges such as industrial production and fixed-asset investment have been surprisingly robust over the past month.The trigger for another potential market jolt in the next few quarters could be the release of particularly weak Chinese service or retail data coinciding with a Federal Reserve interest rate rise or another global event, Mr. Miller said. “Right now, the markets are lulled to sleep,” he said. “People become used to the stable China narrative until they start looking more closely into the data.”

A report released Tuesday by the International Monetary Fund said China can reduce the negative impact on the global economy of its shift to slower but more sustainable growth by ending its use of targets to artificially prop up growth and by communicating its intentions clearly.

Other economists say they expect the Chinese economy to remain relative stable through the once-in-five-year leadership change, which is expected to be in October or November of 2017, as long as Beijing continues stimulating the economy enough to avoid a drop in growth. “I don’t think there’s going to be a crisis next year,” said Julian Evans-Pritchard, an economist with Capital Economics Pte. “But they often take their foot off the pedal too much, then tend to panic again and put it back on, creating a lag.”

The Bank for International Settlements warned last week that mounting leverage raises the risk of a financial crisis in China. The nation’s total debt, led by rising corporate obligations, is on target to reach 253% of gross domestic product by the end of 2016, a doubling over the past eight years, according to credit ratings agency Fitch Ratings Inc.

Third quarter China Beige Book data also pointed to areas of strength. The job market remains strong. The manufacturing outlook improved with new domestic and international factory orders picking up and deflationary pressure on industry ebbing.“It was not a disaster of a quarter,” Mr. Miller said. “But it’s a lot more negative than people think.”

Source: Warning Sounded Over Chinese Economy – China Real Time Report – WSJ

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23/09/2016

Shacking up | The Economist

WHEN Da Lin moved in with his girlfriend two years ago, his mother tried to stop them: she feared that their living together unmarried would sully his girlfriend’s reputation and, by association, his too. She will be happy only after they finally marry next year (his family is buying the apartment, hers the car).

That generational clash is replicated in thousands of families across China: cohabitation without marriage was long anathema and officially illegal until 2001. Today it is commonplace.China’s social mores are changing astonishingly quickly. Before 1980 around 1% of couples lived together outside wedlock, but of those who wed between 2010 and 2012, more than 40% had done so, according to data from the 2010 and 2012 China Family Panel Studies, a vast household survey (see chart). Some reckon even that is an underestimate. A recent study by the China Association of Marriage and Family, an official body, found that nearly 60% of those born after 1985 moved in with their partner before tying the knot, which would put the cohabitation rate for young people on a par with that of America.

The number of unmarried couples living together is growing for many of the same reasons it has elsewhere: rising individualism, greater empowerment of women, the deferral of marriage and a decline in traditional taboos on pre-marital sex. Greater wealth helps—more couples can afford to live apart from their parents. Yet Chinese cohabitation has distinctive characteristics. In rich countries, living together is most common among poorer couples, but in China youngsters are more likely to move in together if they are highly educated and live in wealthy cities such as Beijing and Shanghai. Shacking up is seen as a sign of “innovative behaviour”, say Yu Xie of Princeton University and Yu Jia of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Elsewhere rising cohabitation represents the fraying of marriage: many couples never bother to wed. In China, however, cohabitation is almost always a prelude to marriage—as for Da Lin and his girlfriend—rather than an alternative to it. Marriage is still near-universal, although the skewed sex ratio resulting from China’s one-child policy and a cultural preference for boys has resulted in a surplus of poor rural men who will remain unhappily single. Some highly educated women in cities forgo marriage too.In some Western countries those who live together for an extended period enjoy some of the same legal rights and obligations as married couples. In China cohabitation carries no legal weight. And it is very hard for a child born out of wedlock to acquire a hukou, or residency permit, which provides access to health care, education or other public services.In the 1980s virginity was considered a woman’s chief asset and few couples dared to date openly, let alone live together. Now China is in the midst of a sexual revolution—some 70% of people have sex before marriage, according to a study conducted in 2012. Many young Chinese, however, still have conservative ideas about how their elders should behave: although cohabitation is also on the rise among the elderly, many of them avoid remarrying because their adult children oppose it.

Source: Shacking up | The Economist

25/08/2016

Indian Company Earnings are at Last Showing Some Signs of Recovery – India Real Time – WSJ

India Inc. is finally starting to report the kind of growth one would expect from companies in the world’s fastest-growing large economy.

India’s biggest companies have been stuck in a rut for the last two years even though the country surpassed even China in terms of gross domestic product growth and it voters picked a prime minister who pledged to boost business.

Last quarters’ earnings suggested things may at last be looking up.In the three months ended June, the net profit of companies in the benchmark index, the S&P BSE Sensex, rose 7% compared to a year earlier. While a few companies still haven’t announced results yet, so far it looks like the highest growth for Sensex companies in two years.

Take out the earnings at banks–which are being hurt as the Reserve Bank of India forced them to write off more soured loans–and the profit picture is even prettier. Profit at the non-financial Sensex companies jumped 15% during the quarter, according to data from broker Motilal Oswal Securities Ltd.

While the outlook on global demand is gloomy, hurting exporters and software companies, local demand is strong and getting stronger.

Workers at an IKEA carpet-making facility in Bhadohi, India, August 26, 2015. PHOTO: VIVEK SINGH FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

“The earnings growth mostly came from companies focused on domestic demand rather than companies relying on global markets,” said Vivek Mahajan, head of research at Aditya Birla Money.

Companies selling products to people in India can expect even more demand later this year as above-average monsoon rains bolster farmers’ incomes and government employees receive a massive wage hike, he said.

Sectors such as cement, consumer goods, and auto makers are going to be big beneficiaries of the rising consumer demand.

Source: Indian Company Earnings are at Last Showing Some Signs of Recovery – India Real Time – WSJ

27/05/2016

India Inc shows growth spreading by end of Modi’s sophomore year | Reuters

Indian companies are posting their best earnings results since Prime Minister Narendra Modi swept to power two years ago, giving the clearest sign yet that India’s fast, but patchy, economic growth is becoming more broad-based.

Though headline growth figures make India one of the world’s fastest growing economies, weak private investment and low capacity utilization rates have painted a less rosy picture.

Going by India Inc’s surge in profit growth in the first three months of the year, however, the outlook really does seem to be brightening, as benefits feed through from lower interest rates and government spending in infrastructure and defense.

On Tuesday, India will release gross domestic product data for the January-March quarter. Year-on-year growth of 7.5 percent is forecast by a Reuters survey economists, slightly faster than the previous quarter’s 7.3 percent.

“Macro indicators are suggesting that at the ground level the economy is gaining momentum,” said Dhiraj Sachdev, a fund manager at HSBC Asset Management in Mumbai.

“That has also been validated in terms of better corporate earnings in many of the sectors.”

Operating profits for 289 companies that have reported results so far leapt 25.5 percent year-on-year in the March quarter, compared with 1.7 percent growth in the previous quarter, according to Thomson Reuters data.

It is Indian firms’ best showing since the April-June quarter in 2014.

Put alongside the 6.8 percent decline in earnings that data provider Factset reckons companies in the S&P 500 suffered during the same quarter, India’s corporates have some things going in their favor.

India’s broader National Stock Exchange share index .NSEI has surged around 17 percent from a near 2-year low on Feb. 29, outperforming a 7 percent gain by the Asia-Pacific MSCI index excluding Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS.

This week, Morgan Stanley upgraded Indian equities to “overweight” from “equalweight” citing rising dividends, and prospects of a simpler country-wide sales tax, lower interest rates and benign monsoon among its reasons.

Source: India Inc shows growth spreading by end of Modi’s sophomore year | Reuters

28/01/2016

Grossly Deceptive Plans (GDP) | The Economist

ON JANUARY 19th China declared that its gross domestic product had grown by 6.9% in 2015, accounting for inflation—the slowest rate in a quarter of a century.

It was neatly within the government’s target of “around 7%”, but many economists wondered whether the figure was accurate. Online chatter in China about dodgy GDP numbers was fuelled a week later by the arrest of the man who had announced the data: Wang Baoan, the head of the National Bureau of Statistics. The country’s anti-graft agency accused him of “serious disciplinary violations”, a euphemism for corruption. But beyond all the (justifiable) doubts about the figures lies another important question. That is: why does China have a GDP target at all?

It is the only large industrial country that sets one. Normally central banks declare specific goals for things like inflation or unemployment. The idea that a government should aim for a particular rate of output expansion, and steer the economy to achieve that, is unusual. In the case of China, which is trying to wean its economy off excessive reliance on GDP-boosting (but often wasteful and debt-fuelling) investment, it is risky. It is inconsistent with the government’s own oft-repeated mantra that it is the quality of growth that matters, not the quantity.

In the past, setting a target may not have made much difference. For all but three of the years between 1992 and 2015, China’s growth was above target, often by a big margin. A rare period when targets seemed to affect the way officials tried to manage the economy was from 2008 to 2009, when growth fell sharply (see chart). It would be hard to argue that targets themselves have been responsible for China’s overall (impressive) record of growth in recent decades.

Now, however, the economy is slowing. This is inevitable: double-digit growth is no longer achievable except at dangerous cost (total debt was nearly 250% of GDP in the third quarter of 2015). But the government is worried that the economy may slow too fast, and that this could cause a destabilising surge in unemployment. So it has been ramping up investment again, and goading local governments to do the same by setting a high growth target.

For a while there were signs that the leadership itself had doubts about the merits of GDP target-setting. In 2013 Xinhua, an official news agency, decried what it called the country’s “GDP obsession”. By the next year, 70 or so counties and cities had scrapped their targets. In 2015 Shanghai joined them, becoming the first big city to break with orthodoxy (each level of government sets its own GDP target, often higher than the national one). Liu Qiao of the Guanghua School of Management at Peking University says the central government ought to follow suit.

Last year there were hints that it might. The prime minister, Li Keqiang, said the government would not “defend [the target for 2015] to the death”. And in October, talking about the government’s work on a new five-year economic plan (which will run from 2016 to 2020), President Xi Jinping avoided mentioning a number. That raised expectations that targets might at least be downplayed, if not abandoned.

They have not been, however. An outline of the five-year plan, unveiled in November, contained the usual emphasis on growth. And Mr Xi appeared to change his tune, saying expansion must average at least 6.5% a year until 2020. Many economists believe that will require yet more debt-inducing stimulus. A GDP target for this year is all but certain to be announced, as usual, at the annual session of the legislature in March (when the five-year plan will also be adopted). It will probably be higher than 6%. Speculation that the government might set a target range in order to give itself more policymaking flexibility (as the IMF and the World Bank have urged) has ebbed. In December some national legislators complained that local governments were busting their debt ceilings because there was “still too much emphasis on GDP”.

So why is there still a target? The reasons are political. In a country so large, central leaders are always fearful of losing their grip on far-flung bureaucrats: setting GDP targets is one means by which they believe they can evaluate and control those lower down. Local officials are also judged by environmental standards, social policies and what the Communist Party calls “virtue”—that is, being uncorrupt and in tune with the party’s latest interpretation of Marxist doctrine. But GDP is usually the most important criterion, having the attraction of being (roughly) measurable.

Source: Grossly Deceptive Plans | The Economist

27/01/2016

The Drivers of Growth in China’s New Normal – China Real Time Report – WSJ

As China’s economic growth slows and the manufacturing and industrial sectors face declines, many companies are trying to determine whether or where they can tap into more growth.

The old drivers of the economy, including the middle class and the export sector, are out. What’s in for China’s so-called “new normal” is the upper-middle class and the service sector.

Affluent shoppers under the age of 35 and Internet surfers will push China’s consumer market up to $6.5 trillion in sales by 2020, an increase of 54% from 2015, according to consultancy the Boston Consulting Group. Upper-middle class households, defined as those making between $24,001 and $46,000 in annual income, will double to 100 million in population by 2020 and account for 30% of all urban households in the country.

Consumption is not isolated from the slowdown, but China hasn’t stopped shopping, consultancy The Boston Consulting Group said in a recent report. Consumption growth this year is poised to outpace GDP growth, which economists expect to range between 6% and 6.6%, BCG said.

Source: The Drivers of Growth in China’s New Normal – China Real Time Report – WSJ

14/01/2016

Economists React: China’s December Trade Data May Mean Worst Is Over – China Real Time Report – WSJ

Better-than-expected export and import data in December suggest the beginning of a modest improvement in trade despite recent turmoil in Chinese financial markets, economists say, even as a weaker yuan helps exporters.

China’s exports in December were off 1.4% from a year earlier, a smaller decline than November’s 6.8% or the median 8% forecast of 15 economists surveyed by the Wall Street Journal. Imports were down 7.6%, compared with November’s 8.7% and the 11% median forecast.

Following are excerpts from economists’ views on Wednesday’s trade data, edited for style and length:

The idea that China needs to devalue its currency to reflect a weakening export sector is not borne out by the 2015 trade figures, which show that China gained world-wide market share in a tough global trading environment. The past couple of months, we’ve seen exports surprise on the upside. Worries that something is going on in China behind the scenes, that real compelling economic fundamentals are pushing the yuan weaker, is inconsistent with what we’re seeing on the trade front.—Tim Condon, ING Group ING +0.96%

China’s December trade data was reassuring—indicating that, despite the turmoil on the stock and foreign-exchange markets, growth dynamics in the real economy are evolving more gradually and may actually be improving somewhat. The improvement in exports suggests that the global goods trade gained some momentum toward the end of 2015, with China helped by a weaker yuan. Headline December goods import data were down 7.6%, but import volumes have started to improve. We estimate import volumes were up 7.5% year on year in December, mainly due to better “normal imports” used in China’s own economy (rather than re-exported), implying a pickup in domestic demand momentum at the end of 2015.—Louis Kuijs, Oxford Economics

Better-than-expected trade data hint that the yuan depreciation in December—the currency fell 1.5% against the dollar—could have boosted external demand. For the year, China’s exports dropped by 2.8% and imports plunged by 14.1%. The underperformance of imports reflects sluggish demand for commodities as China moves toward a more consumption-driven growth model. It also highlights the deleveraging under way in China’s manufacturing sector because of the property slowdown. The mixed picture illustrated by China’s trade figures convinced us that growth will be under pressure. Also, China could steer further yuan depreciation at an appropriate pace and time to support economic growth and facilitate the deleveraging in many sectors plagued by overcapacity.—Zhou Hao, Commerzbank AG

China’s better-than-forecast trade figures may signal the beginning of a modest improvement as the yuan stabilizes against a weighted basket of currencies. That could translate into export growth of 5% to 7% and import growth of 1% to 2% this year. Demand may not be a big driver, but China is becoming more competitive with its exchange rate.—Ding Shuang, Standard Chartered STAN.LN +0.35%

China’s better-than-expected export data in December was mainly due to the world’s recovering appetite for exports from China, but its sustainability is still an open question. The devaluation of the yuan might have played a role in boosting exports, though it wasn’t the main driver. To what extent the yuan will influence exports this year is uncertain, given the central bank’s intervention in the foreign-exchange market. But January export figure should be relatively positive since 2015 provided a weak base for comparison.—Ma Xiaoping, HSBC HSBA.LN +0.49%

Source: Economists React: China’s December Trade Data May Mean Worst Is Over – China Real Time Report – WSJ

06/01/2016

What might happen in China in 2016? – McKinsey

Abbreviated from McKinsey: http://www.mckinsey.com/Insights/Strategy/What_might_happen_in_China_in_2016?cid=other-eml-alt-mip-mck-oth-1601

What’s in store for China in 2016?

The reality is that China’s economy is today made up of multiple subeconomies, each more than a trillion dollars in size. Some are booming, some declining. Some are globally competitive, others fit for the scrap heap. How you feel about China depends more than ever on the parts of the economy where you compete. In 2015, selling kit to movie theaters has been great business, selling kit to steel mills less so. In your China, are you dealing with a tiger or a tortoise? Your performance in 2016 will depend on knowing the answer to this question and shaping your plans accordingly.

Many well-established secular trends in China will continue in 2016. The service economy’s expansion is perhaps most prominent among them. In this piece, as usual, I won’t spend much time on the most familiar things. Instead, I will highlight what I believe will become the more important and more visible trends in 2016, either because they are now accelerating to scale or a discontinuity may become a tipping point. (For a quick summary, see sidebar, “The China Orr-acle: Gordon’s predictions for 2016.”) I hope you find my ideas valuable.

The 13th five-year plan—few surprises

Much of China’s 13th five-year plan will seem pretty familiar, as it has been flagged in advance at the Fifth Plenum and elsewhere. Perhaps the only challenge will be to interpret the plan’s intent clearly through the new “party speak” now coming to dominate government pronouncements.

The GDP growth target will still be 6 percent–plus, which will be softened a bit but not eliminated by parallel quality-of-life goals: the environment, health, income, and the like. Achieving the growth target will remain the core objective of fiscal and monetary policies, so expect lower interest rates and pressure on the exchange rate versus the US dollar in 2016. Financial reforms aimed at moving more of the economy toward a market-based allocation of capital will continue.

Meanwhile, there will be more progress on interest-rate deregulation, on the IPO process (registration rather than approval), on permitting new entrants (especially from the tech sector and from abroad) into financial services, and on reimplementing laws suspended in the summer of 2015. The plan will promote decentralization, but the reality is likely to be greater centralization. More infrastructure will be built, mainly to enhance intraregional development—for example, around Greater Beijing.

Green initiatives, reinforced by December 2015 commitments made in Paris and the “red alert” in Beijing that same month, will take center stage. The central government will make such big and visible commitments to its citizens that local authorities will have to mount a serious effort to deliver. There will be tougher emissions standards and more spending to support the development of nonfossil fuels. Green finance will be available. Both private-sector and state-owned companies will rebrand their ongoing initiatives as green. China will explicitly build new export engines from its emerging global leadership in green products; for example, expect to see lots of Chinese-made air-filtration products in Delhi and the rest of India in 2016. Beyond green initiatives, going global will remain a key theme, as detailed in the One Belt, One Road program.1

 

Finally, the plan will recognize China’s success in raising labor productivity over the past decade and prioritize the acceleration of productivity growth, for both capital and labor, from 2016 to 2020. The plan will raise the implications of higher productivity for workers: the disappearance of many traditional well-paying jobs and the need for increased labor mobility and for the lifetime renewal and development of skills. But I am concerned that implementation will be left to local administrators and that the regions requiring the most help will have the lowest amounts of money to invest in reskilling the workforce and the least impressive actual skills to deliver.

Fewer jobs, flatter incomes—and, potentially, less confidence

The workplace in China is already changing dramatically in ways that will create many individual losers—for example, workers in industry sectors in secular decline (such as steel or textiles) or in industries where technology is rapidly displacing people even as output grows (like financial services or retailing). The government must help these workers reskill themselves to deliver on its commitment that all parts of society will benefit from economic growth and to keep people actively engaged in the economy. It will not be enough for officials to visit major local employers, as they did during the global financial crisis, and press them to retain all their current workers.

The maturing of investing: More options for Chinese investors and foreign investment managers

Chinese investors today remain dependent on bank deposits and property. Yet after the volatility of the property and stock markets in 2015, investors want to diversify into more stable vehicles. The number of wealth managers seeking to address this need has increased massively. Often, their main challenge is not finding clients but rather credible products to sell. The main challenge for investors is to find advisers they can trust; most simply push the products that give them the largest commission.

Manufacturing in China is changing, not disappearing

The closely watched manufacturing purchasing manager’s index (PMI) remains below 50, which indicates deterioration, leading to talk that the country may be nearing the end of its time as a manufacturer for the world. Let’s be clear: manufacturing is not about to become irrelevant in China. However, the country is evolving toward extremes of performance: the truly awful and the genuinely competitive.

 

Agricultural imports are rising and rising

In 2016, China’s growing food needs will drive agricultural imports to record highs in both volume and value. A wider range of countries than ever before will find agricultural-export opportunities there.

More centralization

The Chinese media, especially during President Xi’s increasingly frequent trips abroad, made it clear that economic decision making has been centralized over the past two years. China will become still more centralized in 2016, rolling back decentralization where it had unintended outcomes. For example, after local governments received authority to approve new power plants, more than 150 new coal-fired ones were green-lit in the first nine months of 2015—more than three times the number approved in 2013, under the old centralized decision-making process. Unsurprisingly, coal-producing areas granted the largest number of approvals for plants that weren’t required under any realistic demand projection, even setting aside the question of whether any new plants at all should be coal fired. State-owned enterprises are behind most of these projects and would expect to be bailed out if they fail. Thus, for multiple reasons, such decisions will be recentralized.

Moving people at scale—the middle class, not peasants

Despite prodigious investment, many Chinese cities cannot build enough quality infrastructure to avoid massive day-to-day congestion. Even though the new five-year plan will commit the country to build more of it, that will not solve these problems; growth has simply outstripped potential solutions. For example, Beijing’s population officially grew by 60 percent, to 21 million, in just the past 14 years—and unofficially by significantly more.

Movies in China: $$$

A Chinese movie will gross $500 million domestically in 2016. As a benchmark, the highest-grossing movie of all time on US domestic screens is Avatar, at $760 million. This year’s leading domestic productions in China were Monster Hunt (which has grossed $380 million as of September) and Lost in Hong Kong (more than $200 million). The leading international movie, Furious 7, grossed almost $400 million in China. The country’s box office has been set to grow by almost 50 percent in 2015, and new screen additions alone should deliver 20 percent–plus growth in 2016. More than half of the top-ten movies for 2015 (as of late November) are domestic productions, and 60 percent of the box office comes from Chinese movies. The country’s producers and directors have clearly tapped into what excites local moviegoers (and what censors permit).

China continues to go global, with the United Kingdom as a new focal point

China’s outbound investment will accelerate in 2016, with One Belt, One Road–related initiatives driving much of it. A second driver will be distressed-asset acquisitions in basic materials and related sectors: Chinese acquirers may plan not to extract the assets in the near term but simply to stockpile them as long-term insurance. Finally, a growing share of the acquisitions will come from private-sector companies that aspire to global leadership. These companies are increasingly sophisticated buyers, conducting quality due diligence, working with traditional advisers, and focusing on countries where they think that warm political relations will make it easier to do deals.

And finally . . .

My enduring prediction that big business would embrace soccer in China has finally been realized, even if that happened more slowly than I expected. Footballer Sergio Agüero, of Manchester City Football Club, took what became one of the world’s most shared selfies, with President Xi and British Prime Minister David Cameron. It seemed only a matter of time before Chinese capital (specifically, China Media Capital and CITIC Capital Holdings) invested in Manchester City and its global network of teams, which includes the New York City Football Club. Other leading teams are exploring how to participate in China. Arsenal Football Club has a multiyear grassroots program in place, as does Real Madrid. And outbound investment in soccer is growing, highlighted when Wanda Group bought into Atlético de Madrid in 2015.

As always, don’t overfocus on short-term noise about Chinese GDP growth. Try to identify the medium-term direction of the parts of the economy relevant to your business. Enjoy China in 2016!

Gordon Orr is a director emeritus of McKinsey and senior external adviser.

10/12/2015

Aging population could shrink workforce by 10% in China|Society|chinadaily.com.cn

The graying of the population could shrink the number of working-age adults by more than 10 percent in China by 2040, a report from the World Bank said on Wednesday. It means a net loss of 90 million workers in the country until that time, according to the report named “Live Long and Prosper: Aging in East Asia and Pacific”.

“Developing middle-income countries in East Asia, such as China, are already aging quickly and face some of the most pressing challenges in managing aging,” it said. East Asia, as the Word Bank’s research showed, is aging faster than any other region in history. Nearly 36 percent of the world’s population aged 65 and over, or 211 million people, live in this region, which is the largest share among all regions in the world.

The bank warned that the rapid pace and sheer scale of aging in East Asia raises policy challenges, economic and fiscal pressure, as well as social risks. “Without reforms, for example, pension spending in the region is projected to increase by eight to 10 percent of GDP by 2070.”

Axel van Trotsenburg, regional vice-president of the World Bank‘s East Asia and Pacific Region, said on Wednesday that “East Asia Pacific has undergone the most dramatic demographic transition we have ever seen, and all developing countries in the region risk getting old before getting rich.” He suggested a comprehensive policy approach across the life cycle to enhance labor-force participation and encourage healthy lifestyle through structural reforms in childcare, education, healthcare, pensions, long-term care and more.

The report also recommends a range of pressing reforms in China, including removing incentives in pension systems that have encouraged some workers, especially urban women, to retire too early. Developing countries in the region can take steps to reform their existing pension schemes, including considering gradual increase in retirement age, it said.

Source: Aging population could shrink workforce by 10% in China|Society|chinadaily.com.cn

04/12/2015

Selective Equality? China Retirement Age Plan Sparks Backlash Among Women – China Real Time Report – WSJ

China’s policy makers have long accepted the need for workers to delay retirement to ease social and fiscal pressures from a rapidly aging population. Few, however, could agree on how to do it.

This week, state-backed researchers fueled fresh debate on the issue with a new proposal on how to coax more productive years out of China’s silver-haired generation. They called for gradually extending the country’s statutory retirement thresholds over the next three decades, culminating in a flat retirement age of 65 years. But their plan is proving unpopular. It is particularly striking a nerve among some women, who in China can retire between five and ten years earlier than men. The statutory retirement age for men is set at 60 years.

On social media, many female users mocked what they perceived as selective pursuit of gender equality. “In 2045, would there be equal pay between men and women? Would men be able to give birth?” a user, who identified as female, wrote on the popular Weibo microblogging service. “Chinese society, in reality, is rife with gender inequality; why bring about gender equality in retirement age?” another user wrote.

In an online survey, the state-run China National Radio found nearly 80% of respondents objected to setting a flat retirement age for men and women. “Delaying retirement is understandable, but setting the same retirement age for men and women isn’t compatible with our country’s conditions,” CNR quoted a Weibo user as saying. “Men would only have to work five more years, while women would have to work ten years longer. And women still have to face family pressures, so it’s clearly unsuitable.”

The proposal from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences comes amid a longstanding debate in government and academic circles on how to implement a much-needed but deeply unpopular policy. Beijing has said it will gradually raise retirement thresholds starting in 2022, though the policy would only be finalized in 2017. Under rules unchanged since the 1950s, China allows most female workers to retire when they turn 50, while women in public-sector jobs can do so at 55 years of age. To change this, the CASS researchers proposed that the government could in 2017 set a flat retirement age for women at 55 years, eliminating the distinction between private and public-sector workers. Authorities could begin extending retirement thresholds—for men and women—at a fixed pace, starting in 2018.

CASS researchers suggest adding a year to the female retirement age every three years, while doing so for men every six years. Beijing could also allow flexibility for workers to bring forward or delay their retirement by up to five years, on the condition that their pension payouts would be adjusted accordingly, CASS said.

Source: Selective Equality? China Retirement Age Plan Sparks Backlash Among Women – China Real Time Report – WSJ

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